The Unselfish News Brand

“Love isn�t something that we have, it�s something that we do.�

– Country Crooner Clint Black

Most stations will proudly proclaim they possess a �station brand,� but a lot of them are mistaken.� A brand is not a noun.� A brand is a series of verbs and adjectives that describes a feeling.� A brand is an emotional connection to the customer, not just a product feature.� For example, Lady Gaga’s brand statement could be “hip, pop culture parody.”� She wears over-the-top clothes, heckles stardom, and mocks fame, all to demonstrate her brand, but none of those behaviors (nouns) are her brand.

A brand is the trip, not the destination.

The BBC is a leader in international news, but its brand is not about newscasts. Its unique flair for storytelling cleverly demonstrates the brand of “stylish British panache mixed with an Indiana Jones spirit of international adventure.”� The BBC uses the same news gathering tools as everyone else in the business.� What makes them well branded is the unique attitude and style they bring to this common task.

On the consumer side, back-to-basics cosmetics superstar Aveda realizes that its natural product ingredients are not its brand.� The brand is about a wholesome connection with nature, an uncomplicated life, and feeling beautiful without a lot of fuss.� By using natural ingredients, Aveda demonstrates its commitment to that brand.� Aveda makes sure its own internal agenda remains quietly subservient to the customer’s self image.� Plain and simple, it ain’t about them – it’s about their customers.

In the news business, this basic tenet of marketing is often forgotten.� We get so enamored with our own process that the brand is mutated from a feeling our customers share, into a feature on our newscast.

How did Aveda get it right and create one of the most successful brands of the past 20 years?� Take a look at some of these Aveda ads created by customers.� You will notice the ads are completely about the customer’s experience, with not a word about the manufacturer’s agenda.� The company has created an entire mythology around their product.

Customers don’t just like this product, they admire this product.� Customers talk about themselves and how Aveda cosmetics connect with their own personal values.� Take a look at this very personal customer testimonial about her relationship with Aveda.� These products speak to her personal values and priorities.� She gleefully pays twice the price of normal cosmetics because Aveda products mesh seamlessly with the person she hopes to be.

Here is Aveda’s mission statement
“Beauty is as beauty does.� Our mission at Aveda is to care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society.� At Aveda, we strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility – not just in the world of beauty, but around the world.�

What you will notice is that this mission statement scarcely mentions its products.� Aveda is not make-up remover – it is a mission from God.� Customers buy Aveda products because they connect with the company’s priorities, ethics, coolness and swagger.

Now compare Aveda�s mission statement to a news mission statement I recently came across:
�Our newscasts provide the latest, most up-to-date breaking news and weather. No matter where news happens in our market, we will be first on the scene with the most comprehensive coverage of important stories.�

Notice that the viewer isn�t even mentioned.� This station is marketing to itself, not its customers.� It is arrogance branding.� The tacit message: �We�re doing breaking news here, so pay attention!�

Aveda�s brand statement doesn�t dwell on its manufacturing process for creating cosmetics.� You won�t see statements like: �we will use only the most natural ingredients.�� Why?� Because Aveda knows it ain�t about them or their products.� It�s about how customers feel about themselves when they use Aveda products.

Aveda started with the brand, then built the products from that foundation.� They don’t create products, then subsequently find a brand to put on top of them.� They create a brand, then build products that demonstrate that brand.� If your priority is wholesome beauty and a simpler life, then it just makes sense that you would use all natural ingredients.� Aveda�s commitment is to natural beauty, not aloe vera.� Your commitment should be to adventure and excitement, not breaking news.

If your customers tell you they like breaking news, investigations, weather or whatever, that is not the brand.� It is a starting point.� Now you must discover the adjective statement that taps into what drives their passion for these components.� Remember, it�s not breaking news they are digging on, it�s how they feel about themselves when they watch your breaking news.� Most stations know that breaking news is popular, but they have no idea why.

So instead of running through a laundry list of live news attributes at your station, remember that your investigative brand needs to come at the customer from their viewpoint.� Does your news brand demonstrate an important customer passion, or does it simply describe the passion of the news staff?� Make sure you news brand isn’t so busy patting itself on the back that it ignores the customer standing right in front of you.

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